The books I read this year. Two stars means extremely good, one star means recommended.
I was obsessed with Sebald this year and reread all of his novels several times. I also read a fair few biographies, mostly about important historical figures.
1. In The Light of What We Know, Zia Haider Rahman
2. Prisoner of Zion, Scott Carrier
*3. Poetry in the Making, Ted Hughes – essays on poetry; Hughes’s prose is wonderfully clear and deep.
4. King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition and Tragedy, Stephen Booth
5. Stories, Leo Tolstoy
6. This is It, Alan Watts
7. Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, Alan Watts
8. Diary of a Bad Year, JM Coetzee
*9. Waking Up, Sam Harris – lucid, rational explanation of Buddhism.
10. Watermark: An Essay on Venice, Joseph Brodsky
*11. Lustrum, Robert Harris – entertaining set of novels about ancient Rome.
12. Julius Caesar, Philip Freeman
13. Becoming Steve Jobs, Schlender and Tetzeli
**14. The Rings of Saturn, WG Sebald – life-changing for me; probably needs a separate essay. Also sincerely do not expect this to appeal to most people that I know who like to read, so caveat emptor.
*15. Imperium, Robert Harris
**16. The Emigrants, WG Sebald
**17. Vertigo, WG Sebald
**18. Austerlitz, WG Sebald – now probably my favorite novel, and one I expect to reread every year.
19. Fiction Writing, Richard Skinner
20. Youth, JM Coetzee
**21. Austerlitz, WG Sebald (reread, twice)
*22. Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance – surprisingly good, readable biography.
23. Campo Santo, Sebald
24. Macbeth, Shakespeare
25. The Interior Realisation, Hubert Benoit
26. On Having No Head, Douglas Harding
27. Churchill, Boris Johnson
28. David and Golaith, Malcolm Gladwell
29. The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with WG Sebald, Various
30. Satisfaction, Gregory Berns
31. The Rings of Saturn, WG Sebald (reread, twice)
*32. Napoleon the Great, Andrew Roberts – very detailed bio of the extraordinary Napoleon.
*33. The Childhood of Jesus, JM Coetzee
34. The Good Story, JM Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
35. Age of Iron, JM Coetzee
36. Slow Man, JM Coetzee
*37. Summertime, JM Coetzee – Coetzee’s courage in examining his own flaws is amazing.
38. Churchill, Paul Johnson
39. Wittgenstein: A Memoir, Norman Malcolm
**40. Everything and Nothing, Jorge Luis Borges
*41. The Upside of Stress, Kelly McGonigal – TLDR, stress is good for you. Still worth a read.
42. Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Taleb
43. Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance (reread thrice!)
44. The New New Thing, Michael Lewis
45. The ISIS Apocalypse, William McCants
*46. Sapiens, Yuval Harari – excellent biography of the human race. Best non fiction book I read this year.
*47. Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar – examines various ethical lives in beautiful prose.
48. The Trauma of Everyday Life, Mark Epstein
49. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid
50. On the Move, Oliver Sacks
**51. My Brilliant Friend , Elena Ferrante – these novels are beyond amazing. Tolstoy meets Austen. Fully expect these to endure for hundreds of years.
**52. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante